Tenants fear more rent hikes coming in wake of high Jackson County property tax assessments

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's just more than a week left for Jackson County property owners to file property tax assessment appeals.

The deadline for appeals has already been extended twice, and to date, more than 30,000 appeals have been filed. There are growing fears about the impact of the potential property tax spikes.

Diane Charity loves her apartment in Kansas City's Manheim Park neighborhood. It's considered low-income housing, but her rent has shot up each of the four years she's lived here.

"It doesn't make any sense. Affordable is not affordable. We're looking for truly affordable, able to afford housing," Charity said.

Developers of her apartment building got a 15-year tax abatement, but Charity said some property owners are still using the threat of higher property taxes in Jackson County to hike the rent even more.

Hers is going up 10%.

"It has gone up, but my fixed income has not. So I'm up to 70% of my income to pay for my rent, let alone utilities, which is another challenge. I'm down to like 10% of my usable income to buy groceries and things like that," Charity said.

That's why she's involved with KC Tenants, a group advocating for a "Tenant Bill of Rights," which they want to include measures to protect the amount of annual rent increases. Attorneys are drafting that plan now, with the goal of getting it up for City Council consideration.

"We may not have a lot of money, but we sure do have a lot of people and those folks, are the critical mass, that will help us move forward in our agenda to keep our rents low, to keep places affordable and to stay here in Kansas City that we love," Charity said.

If you're concerned about rent increases and would like to get involved in the KC Tenants group, they meet every Saturday form 3-5 p.m. at the SEIU building onĀ  The Paseo.

The county is updating neighborhood information now and hopes to wrap up the first part of its informal appeals reviews by early November.

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